Pilots of American Airlines flight 199 were forced to make an emergency landing after the windshield shattered.

The JFK-bound plane landed at Heathrow Airport, where a cabin crew member captured the extent of the damage to the Boeing 767-300 and uploaded a photograph to Twitter.

A spokesperson for the airline confirmed that a maintenance issue caused the diversion after take-off from Milan but say the aircraft is being investigated to determine the cause.

The Boeing 767-300 departed from Milan-Malpensa Airport and was scheduled to arrive in John F. Kennedy International Airport.

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The plane instead landed shortly after take-off at Heathrow.

Twitter user @JackHudock, who uploaded the picture, said: 'I was on the flight. Textbook emergency landing. I was working crew. Not pilot though.'

American Airlines confirmed 183 passengers were on board, along with 12 crew.

A spokesperson said: 'We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience. We are reaccommodating the passengers on other flights from London to New York.'

The airline has been contacted for further comment.

A similar incident occurred in August where pilots of a Delta Airlines flight 1889 had to make an emergency landing - without being able to see out of the windshield - after baseball-sized hailstones wrecked the front of the plane.

The hail also destroyed the GPS navigation system at the front of the aircraft, which was flying from Boston to Salt Lake City.

The pilots managed to land in Denver - where the passengers could see the extent of the damage to the Airbus 320's cone.

Many said they were lucky to be alive after relatively normal turbulence became a 'roller coaster' up in the air.

- Daily Mail